Jerry Wayne Rye was born to Myrtle and Eddie Rye, Sr. on March 15, 1944, in Shreveport, Louisiana. He relocated to Seattle, Washington with his parents and siblings in 1952 when his father was named the Northwest Organizer for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (Pullman Porters). A proud 1963 graduate of Garfield High School, Rye promptly joined the Army Reserves. Rye was proud of serving six years in the reserves at Fort Ord and Fort Lawton. He often reflected fondly about his experiences with lots of laughs (and he was even known to stretch a story or two!). Rye worked at Boeing, Todd Shipyard, and the Arco Refinery. He later became self-employed as a house painter.
Rye was a car enthusiast. He purchased his first vehicle at 15. Rye loved American-made cars and attended many car shows over the years. One of his favorites was in downtown Renton near his home. Until recently, he still gave out matchbox cars to his brothers, many of which they still have. He taught many members of the family how to drive including his children, nieces, and nephews while they were underage. He loved long drives down the Pacific Coast Highway to the San Francisco Bay and Laguna Beach/LA coastal areas.
Rye was a gifted athlete. He loved playing basketball, baseball, and tennis. Although he quit playing in high school, he continued to play recreation league basketball and baseball well into adulthood. You could find him regularly giving pointers to family members who followed in his footsteps.
Rye was a beloved son, brother, father, and uncle. He served as a primary caretaker for his mother, Myrtle Rye, as she had Alzheimer’s. He loved cooking for his nieces and nephews. His go-to dish? Spaghetti.
Rye was a people person. After relocating from Seattle to Renton, Rye became a valued community member of the downtown Renton area; it was like he was the mayor! He knew most of the shop owners and would always inquire how their day was going and give a word of encouragement. He was known to all for his happy, positive disposition, always offering a big smile. Rye’s favorite hobbies were feeding the birds in his neighborhood and taking long walks with his life partner, Joyce Ayers.
A documentary film aficionado, he was most interested in the Buffalo Soldiers, American history, world travel, outer space, modern medicine, and animals. Rye also loved opera music, especially Pavarotti. He shared this with the children in the family. Later in life, he developed a love for birds of all types–crows were his favorite by far. He would feed the birds on his daily walks and called them by name. As soon as they saw him they would come right to him. He loved that connection, it was beautiful to see. He was known as the ‘Birdman’ by his neighbors. He loved to pray for others including the family pets.
Rye was preceded in death by his father, Eddie “Gramps” Rye Sr., mother, Myrtle “Granny” Rye, sister Brenda Joyce Rye-Brock, and niece, Tracy Looney. He leaves behind his loving partner, Joyce Ayers (his Angel), his children: Robin Rye, Gerald Jones aka Gerald Rye, Terry Hamilton (Sam), and Ricky Rye (Tia), five grandchildren: Jason, RJ, Cruz, Kennedi, Isla, six siblings: Shirley Cunningham, Robert Rye, Eddie Rye, Jr. (Andrea), Jackie Rye (Digene), Sally Rye-Gomes (Emidio), Reggie “Tony” Rye, and a host of nieces and nephews.
The memorial service for Jerry W. Rye will be held at Holgate Street Church of Christ (Minister Jimmy Hurd), 2600 South Holgate Street, Seattle, Washington 98144 on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the Rye Family requests donations for the Black and Missing Foundation on behalf of Jerry Rye.